Hawaii personifies the melting-pot idea of the United States, its modern culture a fascinating mixture of Native Hawaiian, East Asian, American, European, and many other strands. That multicultural melange, meanwhile, finds one of its richest expressions in Hawaiian cuisine, which incorporates elements from all over the world.
Stay with us at the Kahala Resort, and you’re ideally situated to explore this culinary universe: Oahu’s got an absolutely world-class lineup of restaurants and eateries, not to mention some fantastic farmer’s markets!
Classic Oahu Dishes
You can eat beautifully prepared food from the world over in Oahu, but there are definitely some beloved local dishes you’d do well to sample during your Kahala stay.
It’s not hard to find a plate lunch, rather vaguely named but an absolute icon of Hawaiian gastronomy. This Asian-inflected dish features double mounds of white rice, macaroni salad, and some variety of meat or seafood: from salmon teriyaki to kalua pork. It’s the kind of soul-nourishing comfort food you’re likely to find yourself daydreaming about with regularity.
For its protein component, a plate lunch sometimes features what’s also its own standalone staple: loco moco. You’ll find a plethora of different versions, but the foundation of loco moco is an incongruous trio of rice, hamburger patty, and a fried egg that comes slathered in gravy.
And speaking of the incongruous, Hawaii venerates Spam to an almost unrivaled degree. Brought over by American troops during the Second World War, Spam shows up in all sorts of plates, including Spam musubi, a ubiquitous Hawaiian variant of Japanese onigiri that binds fried spam and a rice ball in a belt of seaweed (nori).
We’re barely scratching the surface here: There’s also poke, Hawaii’s classic raw-fish appetizer, and the cold seafood salad of lomi salmon, and the Portuguese doughnut called the malasada, and that omnipresent hot-afternoon treat of shave ice. Heaven!
Oahu’s Dining Scene
Oahu claims some of the most celebrated restaurants in Hawaii, and they come in a beautiful variety of forms: from hole-in-the-wall gems to high-profile palaces of fine dining.
You can feast, for instance, at restaurants run by some of the originators of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine, including Alan Wong’s Honolulu (Alan Wong), Chef Mavro (George Mavrothalassitis), and Roy’s Waikiki (Roy Yamaguchi). Enjoy tried-and-true family recipes at Helena’s Hawaiian Food and reimaginings of traditional dishes at MW Restaurant. Tuck into top-grade poke and other seafood delicacies at Fresh Catch, nab a plate lunch at Raindow Drive-In or Zippy’s, relish that ultimate comfort food of ramen at Agu, and indulge that sweet tooth of yours at Liliha Bakery (with its must-have coco puffs) or Leonard’s Bakery (a malasada haven).
Of course, here at the Kahala we have our very own stellar suite of eateries, from Hoku's (often called one of Hawaii's best restaurants) to Seaside Grill! Some of the much-loved specialties at our resort are the Plumeria Beach House's unique version of malasadas (the Kahalasadas, of course) and its Wednesday curry lunch buffet; Hoku's Ahi Poke Musubi (which combines fried, furikake-seasoned ahi poke with crab namasu, soy ginger, and sushi rice); and our famous chocolate-covered macadamia nuts (the perfect dessert—and the perfect Kahala gift for someone back home).
Oahu Farmers Markets
Given the bounty of Oahu’s soils and oceans, the caliber of the island’s farmers markets shouldn’t come as a surprise. Besides all the ingredients for sale, these tend to be excellent places to chow down on plate lunches, poke, and other morsels. Farmers markets are fun to track down from the North Shore to the windward coast, but some nearby options for our Kahala guests include the Honolulu Farmers’ Market and the KCC Saturday Farmers’ Market.
It's good eating all the time in Oahu! Word to the wise: Bring your appetite to the Kahala Hotel & Resort.
Filed under: Cuisine